Category: Middle Grade Readers (9-12 years)

ILLUSTRATED BY PETER BELLINGHAM

SUMMARY

Many children today believe that fame and fortune are the only pathways to happiness. This book shows that even if every desire is achieved in life, happiness can still be elusive. Many adults who know this important life lesson struggle to easily articulate the concept with their children. Sumi’s story of transformation into a joyful, awakened butterfly will resonate deeply within young children who strain to find meaning and fulfillment in a profit-driven, egocentric world.

This is the story of a baby caterpillar named Sumi and her life’s journey to find everlasting happiness. The story unfolds in a gentle, loving way that reveals age-old wisdom about the search for happiness to modern kids.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF READ REVIEW

Have you ever wondered:  Who Am I? Where Did I Come From? Why Can’t I Be Like…? Well that’s how Sumi felt when she was first born. She wanted to get to know the other caterpillars around her, but they seemed set in their ways. They didn’t like any of her suggestions, and when she tried to get them to go with her up the tree trunk for more food, they never would. But, Sumi soon realized that sometimes you have to do things on your own. One day, she started out on a solo adventure up that tree trunk. And what did she find. I can’t tell you that, but I can tell you that isn’t what made her enlightened. You have to read The Caterpillar that Became Enlightened to find out.

The UNIQUE thing about The Caterpillar that Became Enlightened is the plot. Who ever knew that a caterpillar could do that?

RECOMMENDATION

The Caterpillar that Became Enlightened is primarily for First Time Readers (1-8).  But I think some Middle Grade Readers (9 – 12) dealing with self-esteem issues will find this book helpful.

BUY IT HERE:  Amazon

BIO – DARRYL D. DIPTEE is an active duty US naval officer who has spent over twenty years collecting wisdom from various parts of the globe. He attributes much of his success to the valuable experiences gained while supporting those in need, such as helping Tibetan refugees integrate into society in India and teaching Iraqi children valuable life skills in Baghdad, Iraq. Messy, “unsolvable” problems are his favorite challenges, as he applies his worldly knowledge to convert complex concepts into easy-to-digest, inspirational lessons that people use to achieve fulfilling lives. Deeply spiritual at his core, Darryl’s aim in life is to enjoy every moment of the human experience while inspiring others to do the same.

 

SUMMARY

Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus is not an ordinary bus taking you on a journey. He is a Playbus. Find out what happens when he is invited to an island where the children have never seen a double-decker bus – and certainly not one full of toys!

A DIFFERENT KIND OF READ REVIEW

Last time, when we visited Jay-Jay, he had just become a play bus (Click here to see that review). This time he is going on a different kind of adventure to an island across the channel. While, he is eager to get there, he’s a little frightened, but he trusts his driver to keep him safe. “Oh my, the water’s a little choppy!” he notices and again, he isn’t so sure. that he should get on the ferry. Hmm, he can’t turn back now, the only thing left to do is to quickly get on the ferry. 

Oh, oh, he got on a little too quickly and hurt his bottom. What? How does bus hurt his bottom? What do you mean a bus doesn’t have a bottom? Patience, let me answer. It’s that part underneath. What does underneath mean? You know that part… Wait, I have to let mommy explain that to you as she reads Jay-Jay and His Island Adventure. Together, you’ll also find out if a bus can get seasick, and let me know what you think about those pirates.

Jay-Jay and His Island Adventure is a UNIQUE read because of the adventure he takes you on. And, it’s an ETHNIC read because of the diverse characters appearing throughout the book.

RECOMMENDATION

Jay-Jay and his Island Adventure is recommended for First Time Readers (1-8) and Middle Grade Readers to age 10.

BUY IT HERE:  Amazon

BIO – Sue Wickstead is a Supply teacher working across Sussex and Surrey.

For over 20 years, alongside her teaching career, she worked with a Children’s Charity, a Playbus, which led her to write a photographic history book about its journey. 

She soon found that many children had never been on a bus let alone a ‘Playbus’ and they wanted to know more, so she decided to write a fictional tale about a ‘Playbus’.

Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus came out in print in 2014. From fact to fiction the bus’ journey continues with more stories written and on their way. 

Illustrated by KALPART

 

SUMMARY

All Cats Go to Heaven is a touching children’s book that deals with difficult yet important topics, such as death, friendship, and accepting others for who they. The story is told through the eyes of Minka the cat, who has just become an angel and returns to earth to protect her friends.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF REVIEW READ

After many years, Minka the cat finds herself in Cat Heaven. She is kind of surprised because she thought that cats had nine lives. Is it because she’s lived a long life? Or, is it a myth? Who cares, she’s now in Cat Heaven and she is given one last earthly wish. What does she do? Hmmm, on the premise (that means pretending) that she wants to help her living friends, she makes a request to return to earth. To her surprise, her request is granted provided she follow the rules. Rules! They have rules in Heaven? There are always rules. They just want you to be safe. Especially if you are going on a great adventure like this. And, that what All Cats Go to Heaven is…a spectacular adventure. There are so many things I would like to tell you about the adventure, but I won’t spoil it for you. Just be ready to sing, dance, and laugh. Plus the pictures are awesome. 

The UNIQUE thing about All Cats Go to Heaven is its ETHNIC diversity.

Who would have known that about cats?

RECOMMENDATION

All Cats Go to Heaven is recommended for First Time Readers (6 – 8) Certain Middle Grade Readers (9 – 12), specifically those that tend to shy away from reading and those who love animals, will also like this book. It will also make a great Bedtime Story for those younger than 6.

BUY IT HERE:  Amazon

BIO – Valda V. Upenieks received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington and has worked in various nursing leadership and consulting roles throughout the country. “Minka was my first cat and she lived for 17 years,” she says. The author has two daughters, Laura and Lasma, who live i the greater Seattle area with their two dogs and two cats.

Illustrated by LEDA CHUNG

SUMMARY

Hong goes to Taiwan with her dad to visit her grandmother. She finds two BIG problems. First, there is an enormous beetle in the bathtub. Second, her grandmother’s noodle shop is being forced to close. What can she do?

A DIFFERENT KIND OF READ REVIEW

For the first time in her life Hong is visiting her grandmother in Taiwan. Unknown to her, she is about to become part of an exciting fantasy mystery. It all starts with a bug. Eww, a nasty bug. Hong doesn’t want it to fall on her while she is sleeping. Everyone knows that girls hate bugs, well some don’t, but that’s a different story. Let me tell you a little secret, over fifty percent of all boys like bugs, and that’s why they will love Superbeetle. But, I’m getting off the subject. Hong hates bugs, and is crawling over her head. What will she do if he falls. Not gonna happen, she screams and her father takes care of it.

Or does he? She’s afraid it’s going to come back. What does she do? She goes to find it. As she enters the hallway, she hears splashing water coming from the bathroom. Something isn’t right. She creeps towards the door, and slowly peeks inside and, and it’s a…. I really want to tell you what it is. You probably already know. I can tell you that…no, I can’t tell you. Hurry, just read Superbeetle. You’ll get the answers. Please, please, I can’t tell you anymore. What makes Superbeetle an ETHNIC read is Hong, Chi Chi and their families. What makes it UNIQUE read is the way that the author showed you how to say the Chinese words right inside the text.

RECOMMENDATION

Superbeetle is a Chapter book recommended for First Time Readers (1-8) I also think this book will appeal to boys included in the Middle Grade Readers (9-12) because of the bugs. Everyone will be drawn to the fantastic illustrations.

BUY IT HERE:  Amazon

BIO

Author S. Michele Chen lives in Southern California but visits her family in Taiwan when she can because the bugs no longer scare her.  She has published numerous crime fiction short stories and a novella under a secret identity.  Superbeetle is her first children’s book: www.superbeetlebook.com

Illustrator Leda Chung was born and raised in New England.  In 2010 life swept her away to Northern California where she currently resides with her boyfriend and their pet pigeon, Olive.  When she’s not creating art, you can find Leda experimenting in the kitchen, tending to her small plant-family, and rescuing pigeons and doves in the California Bay Area: www.ledachung.com

Illustrated by KELLY CLINE

SUMMARY

Sidney Snail is so sick of Slipperyville that he wants to go on an adventure–any adventure–anywhere but here! A timely word from mysterious Old Samuel Snail convinces Sidney to give Slipperyville one last chance before he snails out of town. 

Sidney will help show children (and adults!) that they can find magic, mindfulness, and meaningfulness in even the simplest things. All you need is a change of perspective. 

A DIFFERENT KIND OF READ REVIEW

Everyone loves to go on an adventure, or vacation as some of us call it. Be it Disneyland, Universal Studios, or Knotts Berry Farm. Okay those are my adventures. But would you like to know where you can find one of the best adventures. How about right in your own backyard? That’s what Sidney did. At first, he wanted to travel to someplace far away from Slipperville. But, he had never done that. So, he talked to old Sam who gave him some very sage (wise) advice. You can leave (Slipperyville) any old time. But it’s always wise to find out What’s at the End of Your Nose first.”* What’s at the end of his nose? How exactly does one find out what’s at the end of their nose? Welllll, first you have to…hmmm. Maybe… Come on, we always go through this. Me and my big mouth. It always wants to give out the entire story. But, as always, I know it will be so much more fun to read Sidney’s story yourself, so that you can be part of the adventure. But, maybe I’ll just tell you this little…. No, I’m done. What makes What’s at the End of Your Nose a UNIQUE read is the little teeny bit of romance. Eww? Awww, come on, it’s not bad. It will just make you smile.

RECOMMENDATION

What’s at the End of Your Nose is recommended for First Time Readers (1-8) and for boys of Middle Grade Readers to age 10 who love bugs. It also makes a great bedtime story.

BUY IT HERE:  Amazon

BIO – Becky Benishek studied English and Environmental Science at Lawrence University, and always hoped to turn her lifelong loves of writing, animals, and trees into something wonderful. She lives with her husband, Dave, and their guinea pig, Teddy. 

*Changes were made to the quote for clarity for my young readers and to highlight the book’s title.

SUMMARY

Creatures of Dawnia is a fantasy adventure series focusing on a group of animals and other ‘fantasy’ creatures living in the fictional city of Dawnia, and contains many diverse short stories focusing on the different adventures of the main characters. The first book, Baby Rescue, is a longer story that sees the main characters come together for the first time. The characters get to know one another and become friends whilst in the middle of an adventure to save a baby piglet from an evil goblin and his polar bear henchmen.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF READ

The main characters of Baby Rescue – Creatures of Dawnia—Book 1 are a very  different and unusual group. Let’s see there’s Fuzz, a mouse and Dack, a pterodactyl. They met when Fuzz was trying to get away from him because he didn’t want to be his dinner. Fuzz wasn’t successful, but that mouse used cunning and wit to stop Dack from eating him. Wait, that was after Carla, the sheep, brought the piglet to Bert, the pig, and Maggie, the cow, who lived on Dawnia Farm. It was Maggie’s job to take care of the piglet, but she couldn’t get it to stop crying. Somehow, the polar bears showed up, followed by the goblin. Then they were in the forest and met up with the dwarfs, Dougle, Dula, and Snuffy. Of course, their adventures took them to Louis. Now Louis is… Hmm, there is so much I want to tell you about Baby Rescue, but I don’t want to give away the story. The adventure is too great! I can tell you that the UNIQUE thing about Baby Rescue – Creatures of Dawnia—Book 1 is its cartoon features. Who doesn’t love a good cartoon?

RECOMMENDATION

Baby Rescue – Creatures of Dawnia—Book 1 is recommended for First Time Readers (1-8) and Middle Grade Readers to age 10.

BUY IT HERE;  Amazon or Smashwords 

BIO – Sam Savelli is a children’s writer, and creator of the internet series ‘Creatures of Dawnia‘ for children.  He first came up with ‘Creatures of Dawnia’ at the age of 12 years old, after drawing a set of animal characters from a drawing book. After putting all the characters together in a story called ‘Baby Rescue’, he went on to develop the characters and create ideas for more stories in the series. Over the next seven years, Sam wrote and created a great number of ‘Creatures of Dawnia’ stories.

In 2016 he wrote his one hundredth ‘Creatures of Dawnia’ story and finally decided that it was about time that he did something with these stories. Having written so much, for no one other than himself and his younger sisters, he wanted to publish the stories to a larger audience. So, he set up the website dawniacity.com and began publishing the stories online and releasing them as ebooks.

Aside from ‘Creatures of Dawnia’, Sam continues to work on a number of other writing projects. He aspired to become a writer from a young age, and plans to devote more time to his writing after completing his degree at the University of Warwick.

 

LITTLE KARL
M. EARL SMITH
Illustrator E. A. SANTOLI

SUMMARY

Little Karl is a curious child, always wanting to know everything about the world around him. As he walks through the city with his mother, he asks question after question about what he thinks is wrong with the world and offers his own solutions to make sure everyone has shelter, food, education, work, and comfort.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF READ REVIEW

It’s morning and you step outside your house and see lush green grass, sunlit bright blue skies. You smile because the world is a great place, but not for everyone. That’s what Little Karl noticed when he went walking around town with his mother. He saw this and asked why it was that way. Then he saw that and again he asked his mother why it was this way. Oh, you want to know what this and that is? You know me by now, you have to find out for yourself. I will say that it is something very valuable. What makes Little Karl a UNIQUE read? It’s all about the ending. With its diverse characters, Little Karl is also an ETHNIC read.

RECOMMENDATION

Little Karl is recommended for First Time Readers, Middle Grade Readers to age 10, and curious readers of all ages.

BUY IT HERE: AMAZON

Author Bio: With work for children and adults, M. Earl Smith is a writer who seeks to stretch the boundaries of genre and style. A native of southeast Tennessee, Smith moved to Ohio at nineteen and, with success, reinvented himself as a writer. After graduating from Chatfield College in 2015, Smith enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia to study creative writing and history. He is the proud father of two wonderful children and, when he’s not studying, splits his time between Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Chattanooga, with road trips to New York City, Wichita, Kansas, and Northampton, Massachusetts.

Illustrator Bio: E. A. Santoli is an illustrator and teacher. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. His inspirations are bridged between academic painting and Japanese manga and anime. He currently resides in Ridgewood, New Jersey.

LUKE
the Horse who wanted to be a Unicorn
ANITA HAGER
Illustrated by INSIMA

 

SUMMARY

Luke was a strong, stately, well-built horse who lived in a town with other horses. He enjoyed spending time with his horse-friends in the stable and with the little girls of the community. But there was one thing about Luke that made him feel ashamed and insecure among his friends. His body was covered in dark brown spots from top to toe. Luke figured that there was only one way through which he would feel more accepted among his friends – he had to look like a unicorn, beautifully white and magically majestic.

Old Brownie, the wisest horse in the stable, saw Luke’s sadness and tried to comfort him. He quickly came up with a brilliant plan to help Luke become a unicorn. Luke was very excited to join in the plan, but little did he know that Old Brownie was trying to teach him an important life lesson.

Will Luke realize his dream of becoming a unicorn? Will he be able to deal with the thrilling consequences of being a unicorn? Will Luke’s friends approve of his new look?

A DIFFERENT KIND OF READ REVIEW

We’ve all been there, well maybe not all of us. But you know how it is, one day you step out of the house, and someone doesn’t like, your hair, your clothes, the way you talk, the way you laugh. Simply they don’t like you being you. Of course no one tells you directly. Mostly, you hear whispers or a few come and start making fun of you.

Now do you see what Luke is going through. Hmmm if he only knew. Knew what you ask. Well that he’s really. Oh you almost got me. I don’t want to be the person that gives away the ending. You’ll find out for yourself when you read Luke – The Horse Who Wanted to be a Unicorn. What makes Luke – The Horse Who Wanted to be a Unicorn a  UNIQUE read is its ending. Now, you know I’m not going the ending! But, I can’t wait for you to read it.

RECOMMENDATION

Luke – The Horse Who Wanted to be a Unicorn was written for First Time Readers (1-8), but Parents, I really feel that some Middle Grade Readers and Young Adults to 15 could benefit from this book.

BUY IT HERE:   Amazon

BIO: Anita Hager (1980-) is a mother of two who lives in a small cozy
town in Norway. She and her husband also share their home with four cats. Her imaginative and meaningful children’s stories follow in the tradition of her Grandmother who read to her when she was a little girl. Now Anita reads her own stories to her two little boys at night and has decided to share them with others.

You will see her love of animals reflected on each page as well as her dream to help children grow up knowing how special they are.

She has created The Be the Magic you Are series of books for children. Books with stories that inspire children to be the magic they are by being themselves and reaching for their dreams. Most of the stories are based on animal characters that combine great stories with great illustrations.

Her saying is “Be yourself and you are always a unicorn! Be the magic you are!”

 

HOW KING MONTEZUMA GOT HIS REVENGE
ANNALISA NASH FERNANDEZ
ILLUSTRATOR PILAR CASTILLO LAYOS

SUMMARY

Montezuma’s revenge is more than just a legend; it’s legendary for its stinky curse. Centuries after King Montezuma was defeated by Hernán Cortés and his Spanish army, a strange illness befalls legions of people arriving to his land. But this illness isn’t anything ordinary. It leaves a putrid smell in the air and gassy people racing for  el baño . It is a battle – a battle your butt won’t win!

A DIFFERENT KIND OF READ REVIEW

It has many names because it happens in many places. For me, I had Mummy’s Tummy in Egypt and I’m not sure what they call it in France, but I had it there too. In Mexico, it’s called Montezuma’s Revenge. That bellyache and gas that sends you rushing to the bathroom when you eat the food in another country. Now you may wonder what’s this got to do with How King Montezuma Got His Revenge. Well, you know it’s a legend don’t you? You don’t!? Stop everything right now and get this book, because the story behind the legend is astounding.

The UNIQUE thing about How King Montezuma Got His Revenge was how the illustrator incorporated historical pictures (gathered from public media) into her illustrations in the form of a book. This book was being shared by the book’s main character, a little girl of Mexican heritage.  Thus, How Montezuma Got His Revenge is also an ETHNIC read.

RECOMMENDATION

This book is recommended for First Time Readers (7-8) and Middle Grader Readers (9-10). However, it a great read-to book for any child.

BUY IT HERE: Amazon

BIO

Annalisa Nash Fernandez is an intercultural specialist and mother of three children.  She lives in Riverside, CT.

EVEN MUMMY CRIES
NAOMI HUNTER
ILLUSTRATED BY KAREN ERASMUS

SUMMARY

Even Mummy Cries is a gentle book which explores issues surrounding mental health and wellbeing. It is reassuring in nature, explaining to children that they are not to blame for any sadness experienced by their parents. In addition, it encourages parents to openly express their sadness with their kids without feeling guilt or shame.

This important book is the sophomore release from ABIA nominated author Naomi Hunter.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF READ REVIEW

Sometimes it’s hard to understand how your mother or father is playful and fun with you one moment and then screaming, hollering, or crying the next. It’s hard to understand because it’s scary and you don’t know what you’ve done wrong. Even Mummy Cries that addresses the issue that it’s not your fault. Sometimes, as we have things that bothers us, making us sad, angry or frustrated, we lash out or cry.

It is the same thing for our parents. It’s just that they try not to do it in front of us. But, when things happen that they can’t fix away from our eyes, they break down; and Even Mummy Cries shows you some of the things you can do to help them. What makes Even Mummy Cries a UNIQUE read is that it gives parents an opportunity to explain a scary situation.

RECOMMENDATION

I wrote this review primarily for kids who might be experiencing a confusing situation with their parent. However, I really feel that this is a book that parents should read with their children in the hope that is opens the door for conversation and/or help. That being said, this book is recommended for All Ages.

BUY IT HERE:  Empowering Resources

BIO

Naomi Hunter’s debut picture book, ‘A Secret Safe to Tell’, was released in 2014 and earned her a nomination in the Australian Book Industry Award (ABIA) as well as the Australian Speech Pathology Awards.  She has an Honours Bachelor Degree in Primary Education and enjoys writing about sensitive topics in a way to bring about freedom, love and warmth, empowering readers with effective communication and dialogue in which to discuss difficult issues.

Karen Erasmus is a freelance illustrator based in Melbourne. Other books include You’re Different Jemima, Annabel s Chewy-Gooey Birthday Cake and Five Little Platypuses.